Kidney Cancer…Again

Let me tell you about kidney cancer and its aftermath.

Twelve years ago, my husband had horrific back pain, out of nowhere, and instead of the kidney stones everyone was expecting, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Surgery followed a week later, a right nephrectomy. He spent four days in the hospital, came home, recovered, and was back at work (retail) a couple weeks later.

For the next five years, he had a CT scan every three months and a bone scan every six. Nothing else ever showed up, thank God. That was 2009.

Two months ago, he was undergoing a baseline lung CT scan, and the tech noticed something down near his left kidney. The following week, he had an MRI. Kidney cancer again. Twelve years later.

At the end of September, he had a left nephrectomy. He spent nine days in the hospital, on oxygen and with an a-fib event for half of that, in the step-down ICU. A few weeks later, he had another surgery to finish an AV fistula in his left arm, for access.

He’s spent a lot of time dozing, not sleeping much at night; food tastes off, even if he goes off his diet and tries things he used to enjoy; he gets tired easily when he walks around, his blood pressure is up and his oxygen is down.

And then there’s dialysis. Three times a week for four hours, or he’ll die. That’s a fact. He is not eligible for a transplant until he’s cancer-free for five years.

There’s a TV show called B-Positive, a sitcom, cute, entertaining. We still watch it, in spite of the fact that Hollywood is not known for its realism. But holy cow, they really dropped the ball on this one.

See, the first season was all about this geeky guy who ran into a quirky old high school acquaintance, and when she found out he was in kidney failure, she offered to donate one of hers. The main scenes revolve around four or five people in a dialysis clinic, who talk and laugh and joke during treatment, often go out to dinner or have parties or date or whatever.

But damn. I’ve seen the inside of two dialysis clinics, and this is NOT WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.

You know how, maybe, you’ve walked into a nursing home, and people are sitting around in wheelchairs or regular chairs, and they all look out of it, at the very least, and no one is talking or laughing or joking around? Yeah. It’s like that. Sick people. Not particularly happy people. Certainly not people planning on a night out. It’s depressing as hell.

THAT is the reality.

What else is involved? He’s not supposed to eat much sodium, potassium, or phosphorus. What foods have phosphorus? Every. Single. Thing.

It’s checking vitals once or twice a day, which are transmitted to Mercy Virtual; a nurse practitioner calls once a week to go over everything, or more often if things aren’t looking too good. It’s coordinating appointments and tests with our general practitioner, a vascular surgeon, an oncologist, urologist, cardiologist, and nephrologist—and it took six weeks to get that one. [insert eyeroll]

It’s no showers as long as he has the catheter for dialysis, a couple weeks of wearing a heart monitor, still more outpatient surgery to remove that catheter, weekly blood work and doctor visits.

Because of the effects of dialysis, it’s gone from a seven-day week to maybe three half-days of being able to do whatever he wants—as long as his energy holds out.

Less than two months ago, he was cutting down trees and splitting logs, doing tractor work, and finishing up projects around the farm.



There have always been anti-government types, regardless of which government or which parties are in power. “Power” is probably the operative word here.

But lately, for the last couple decades perhaps, their numbers have grown. I’m quite sure that social media has played a large part in this. People who couldn’t name more than a handful of politicians can now rattle off an entire alphabetized list, AND tell you who’s who and what position they hold.

At the same time, folks have continuously and more vociferously clamored for change—removal of pork from proposed bills, term limits, inclusion of a third party, and so on and so forth.

Let me take a minute to talk about this “third party,” otherwise known as Libertarians. Their main premise is that everyone is free to do what they wish as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. All well and good, and I can’t really argue with this, but their candidates are so loosely bound by this that there is no cohesion and no oversight. And I don’t believe they’ll be a valid party until this changes. I’m sure you’re familiar with “if you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Today’s scuttlebutt is centered around Parler and free speech. No, free speech has not gone down the toilet, but rumor-mongering and fear-mongering certainly have. The reason Google and Apple are cracking down is twofold: incitement to violence and, to use a Trump phrase, “fake news.” Facebook, of course, has been diligent about removing both.

NONE of these businesses—key word—are censoring anything but violence and bullshit. Just because you read “Facebook has removed” or “Facebook is not allowing” a certain post means nothing at all; mostly because you are, at that moment, reading what they supposedly removed.

Let’s say you own a retail shop. Someone comes in and starts spouting some BS, maybe the classical “the End is nigh!” sort of thing, and so you do what? You escort him from the premises, at the very least. Maybe you ban him from ever coming back. Because, well, it’s YOUR business. Ditto for the tech giants.

Now, I’ve said this before: none of these entities are removing your OPINION (unless it incites violence), but yes, they’re removing false links. Like “drink bleach to beat the ‘Rona.” Basically, they’re protecting stupid people. Also: no, an unknown individual did not “crack the code” or see something sinister to either beat the ‘Rona or prove fraud. Didn’t happen. Stop spreading the bullshit.

As for the violence part, wow, I’ve read some interesting stuff today. You’re familiar, of course, with the “yelling fire in a crowded theater?” Same thing. You CAN, but there are consequences.

I’m appalled at what happened in DC a few days ago. (I’m also appalled that the DC mayor called for statehood RIGHT NOW at this particular time—seriously, WTH?? But that’s a different issue.) It was a perfect storm, engineered between QAnon, so-called patriots, and people I can only describe as mentally unbalanced and mentally challenged. And regular people who got caught up in it all.

I do know people who subscribe to many of these things. They’re regular people, nice people. But they got pulled in anyway, and I can only pray they realize this at some point. If you support change, I’m with you; if you support change through burning and killing and so forth, that’s a big nope.

QAnon has screwed with many, many people. Mostly regular folks. They included just enough detail and Christianity to appeal to a wide spectrum. They are false. They are fake. They are bullshit. Can’t say this enough. Believe me or not, your choice; eventually, you’ll see it.

There is not a cabal of elites engaging in worldwide child trafficking. There is not. They do not control our government. Nope. They don’t. JFK is not alive and is not who is behind QAnon. Nope. He just isn’t. I could go on and on and it’s all a big nope.

There are so many ways to effect change that storming the Capitol building and acting like a bunch of spring break partiers shouldn’t ever be on the radar—not if you’re serious about that change.

What is a patriot? A patriot is one who believes in and loves his country. You can be a patriot and not be insane, in spite of what the media says.

I consider myself a patriot—and not one of those with questionable morals and intelligence. I stand squarely in the middle. Not lukewarm, again, squarely in the middle. I believe there needs to be governmental change, but not via a little B&E. Or a lot of B&E. Or silly costumes. [Insert very, very hard eyeroll]

How would this work? I don’t know yet. But I know how it won’t. And the first thing we need is calm and dignity from the Whitehouse.